The following story contains major spoilers about Tuesday’s New Girl. Proceed at your own peril. And we repeat — if you haven’t watched the episode, don’t read any further.
Is New Girl big enough for two Winstons?! The Fox comedy posed that very unlikely question in Tuesday’s penultimate Season 6 episode when it was disclosed that Schmidt’s elusive first name is eerily, coincidentally, hilariously similar to bestie Winston’s. Actually, it is Winston.
Below, exec producers Brett Baer and Dave Finkel break down the story behind the long-awaited revelation, while also weighing in on the episode’s other major plot turn — the breakup of Nick and Reagan and the looming second coming of Nick and Jess. The pair also offers an update on New Girl‘s very uncertain future beyond next week’s finale.
TVLINE | How long have you known that Schmidt’s name was Winston?
BRETT BAER | Dave and I wrote an outline for [Season 1] Episode 14 where we revealed what Schmidt’s name was and we decided to hold off. It was just too early. But the funny thing is, it wasn’t [Winston] at all. Over the course of six years there have been a lot of iterations of what Schmidt’s name was. And we stumbled on the [Winston] idea early into Season 5. I think [series creator] Liz [Meriwether] came up with it over lunch, and we thought it was hilarious. And then it became a question of when to pull that trigger. There was some debate about doing it during [Schmidt’s Season 5 wedding to Cece] and then we decided to wait.
DAVE FINKEL | We were waiting for the moment when it felt right and most impactful. And we still don’t know if there will be a Season 7, so it’s one of those things where if we’re going to do it, we better do it [now].
TVLINE | Did you keep it a secret from Max Greenfield and Lamorne Morris?
BAER | It was a secret. We kept it in the writers room for as long as we could. And I have to say, the table read [for this episode] was one of the best table reads we’ve ever had because everyone was learning about it at the same time. I could tell by the response they were having while reading the script that they seemed to dig it.
TVLINE | The other big development in the episode: Nick and Reagan broke up. Does Megan Fox still have a role on the show should there be a seventh season?
BAER | Absolutely. One of the great things about this show is we’ve established this great family of characters that will sometimes leave the show and then reappear in surprising ways… We’re so fortunate to have such incredible and funny actors on the show, and when they’re available to return we will always find ways to weave them back in.
TVLINE | Is Nick and Jess’ seemingly inevitable reunion also a byproduct of the show’s uncertain future? Like, it’s now or never?
BAER | That obviously plays a part in it. I think it would be really disappointing to have the show go off the air and not give the audience a satisfactory conclusion to a story line that’s been the engine of the show since Season 1. That said, we’re obviously hoping [for a Season 7]. We have ideas for how to propel the show into the future. But we didn’t want to go off the air without answering this question.
FINKEL | People are so rabid about [Nick and Jess] it would be unfair to deprive them of [a resolution].
TVLINE | Alternately, if they do get back together in next week’s finale and the show does get renewed for Season 7, then you’re back to trying to figure out how to make Nick and Jess as interesting together as they were apart.
FINKEL | They will still be characters in flux. I definitely think they’ve grown in massive ways since the last time they were together, but are they ready for each other yet? I don’t necessarily know. They are still weirdos.
BAER | We’ve also got a couple of ideas on the table that [would give] us some creative opportunities to move things in a different direction [in a potential Season 7]. I don’t want to get too specific. But we don’t feel too hemmed in by anything.
TVLINE | Ten-year time jump?
BAER | There’s been talk… [Laughs]
FINKEL | There has been talk.
TVLINE | Jake Johnson’s gut seems to be telling him Season 6 will likely be the end. Is your gut saying the same?
FINKEL | We still feel like we have stories to tell. And given where the season finale ends, you can sort of see where we could pick up and where future stories can come from.
BAER | All indications are that it’s a very good possibility that we are coming back. I think what Jake was responding to was the fact that we were trying to… end the season in a way that could satisfy audiences.